When one thinks of the works of Thomas Pynchon, the mind drudges up terms like “tour de force,” “loopy,” and “literary,” but what many people don’t describe it as is insane.
Often compared with the works of the likes of Kurt Vonnegut and J.D. Salinger, Thomas Pynchon’s work is nothing more than standing in their shadows. Where Vonnegut and Salinger have planned literary risks paired with an agenda and a great story, The Crying of Lot 49 has long, confusing, run-on sentences, lost and disconnected thoughts, and what appears to be no actual story. Not until you reach the last sentences of the book does any of it make sense and upon reaching this oh-so-revealing ending the story leaves the reader disconnected, feeling empty, tired and full of remorse for wasted time.
The question is, is this what the book is supposed to make you feel? Is it literary genius or drug addled drivel? According to a September 2002 study of the novel by theSatirist.com the theme of the novel is distorted communication, throwing this book clearly into the ring of the literary genius.
“The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon’s second novel, pursues many of the same themes Pynchon explored in his first novel, V. In Lot49, we are presented with historical mysteries and symbols that the protagonist cannot decipher. Nor can the protagonist even be sure whether the symbols mean anything, or are in fact a part of a great conspiracy. […]
Lot 49 is largely a meditation on the failure of communication, both in the present, and between generations.[…]Lot 49 plays around with the indistinguishable mix of fact and fiction.[…]
Because his main themes are the unknowability of the universe and the limitations of communication, Pynchon need not supply the reader his any definite answers. He only poses difficult questions. Like many writers facing such themes, he seems to posit the necessity of our illusions to keep us going. Oedipa certainly wishes to regain her illusions after her discoveries shatter her sense of reality. Yet by the end, Pynchon provides no answers, only a comically dark portrait of his time (and perhaps Man’s condition).”
Unfortunately for most readers, the round-about way that Pynchon expresses his themes and ideas leaves the reader restless and eager to just get it over with. The overly detached nature of thoughts and conversations is overwhelming and results in the reader drowning in it rather than absorbing it. That may seem harsh when one looks at the ideas he is attempting to tackle, but in my opinion he takes on too much and it just results in a bad story.
Save your money.